As with most music genres, I posses an admitted bias for hip-hop of the 90′s, though I struggled for years to explain why. It simply sounded better than anything before or since. While I certainly appreciate the significance of pre-NWA hip-hop, today it sounds dated, while an album like Dr. Dre’s The Chronic sounds as fresh as it did twenty years ago, arguably better than today’s auto-tuned nonsense that passes as hip-hop.
The Chronic represents a landmark album in the annals of music for a number of reasons, but most importantly, it introduced the world to “G-Funk,” in which hip-hop artists layered their tales of the street on top of sampled classics of funk and soul. It gave the music a groove to accompany the beat, a swagger to match the substance, and made it palatable to music lovers of all varieties, and introduced a generation of white folks like me to musical legends like Leon Haywood for the first time.
G-funk was to early 90′s hip-hop what grunge was to early 90′s rock. It defined the whole “West Coast sound, ” proving the tracks an artist samples can be just as important as the lyrics they write, or the beats they drop.
As such, I felt compelled to share my personal “Top 10 Uses of Samples in Hip-History.”
1. “It Was a Good Day” Ice Cube
Samples: “Footsteps in the Dark (Parts 1 & 2)” The Isley Brother
Judging by its ubiquitousness, Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” might be the most popular hip-song of all time. It’s also one of the most solid, thanks in large part to this Isley Brother classic.
2. “Lil’ Ghetto Boy” Dr. Dre (featuring Snoop Dogg & D.O.C.)
Samples: “Little Ghetto Boy” Donny Hathaway
Without question, Snoop’s finest work. Also, served as my introduction to Donny Hathaway, a true American legend.